Learn more about German habits from celebrating the Oktoberfest to public nose-blowing.
While studying in Germany as an international student, one may encounter some strange behaviour. For us Germans our habits are perfectly normal, but for someone from far away some things might be quite a change or very unusual. And that’s why we asked our students for their most charming, funniest, or most remarkable experience with Germans or the German culture in general. Some we expected, but others were really surprising! We picked out some (funny) stereotypes for you:
Who wouldn’t have expected this answer? The German Oktoberfest is well known internationally – there are people who actually think that Germans everywhere in the country walk around with Lederhosen or a Dirndl and a pint of beer in their hands all day long. Actually, this only applies to Munich in October and even though untrained people go home with sore arms from lifting beer, it is definitely worth the trip. So don’t worry – you won’t attract attention if you don’t wear Lederhosen in Aachen.
Broad number of sausage types
Speaking of Oktoberfest, the German Weißwurst is delicious. One of our students has already fallen in love with it: “There are just too many kinds of sausages. There were times where I spent half an hour in the supermarket, deciding which one to buy. Now I just buy the Weißwurst – Sehr lecker (very tasty).” By the way, Germany is not only famous for its sausages but also for its unique variety of bread, which was named World Cultural Heritage in 2014.
In some parts of Germany, Carnival is a pretty big event, especially in Cologne or Düsseldorf. Aachen also loves to celebrate Carnival. It has some similarities to the Brazilian Carnival but is very different in some ways. First of all, it is way too cold for short clothes in February. That’s why the warmer, full-body costumes in Germany are not only colorful, but you can also be what you have always dreamed of – a unicorn, a fireman or even a bag of popcorn. Although you have to get used to the German Carnival music and drinks at 11am, this event is a lot of fun: “It was an evening of singing and dancing and holding hands. A truly unforgettable experience”, one of our students described his first contact with Carnival.
Christmas markets and “Glühwein”
To help you get through the cold winter, there are beautiful Christmas markets everywhere in Germany. Get cozy while freezing a little bit and holding a hot “Glühwein” (mulled wine) in your hands at the same time! Even if you are not a big red wine fan, you should give red “Glühwein” a chance as it’s way sweeter and offers notes of various delicious spices (usually cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel, and star anise). One of the best Christmas markets in Germany and even in Europe is actually here in Aachen, where you can enjoy not only a hot drink but also a lot of food and atmosphere.
To stick to the subject, especially in winter, you might get a runny nose. Apparently, it is not common for some cultures to blow your nose in public – but we do it all the time. So be prepared or otherwise you will find yourself shocked like one of our students: “I found 3 students reaching out for some tissue paper from their bag and going at it simultaneously, the shocking part is that only I was startled by it and the others were just calm and focusing at the lecture.”
Germans are not only very punctual, polite and hard-working but also in the habit of being bureaucratic. This leads to a lot of contracts, wherever you look – which can be annoying and helpful in many ways at the same time.
These are just a few examples, but they show one thing: Germany is a diverse country with a lot of culture and unique events. Everyone can feel at home here, even if they prefer to avoid such oddities as leather pants or hot wine.
A huge thanks to all of our students who shared their experiences with us!
You want to know more about studying in Germany, the life in Aachen and our programs? Please follow this link and have a look into our student talks and interviews with our professors.